Printing Error Shows Flaw In “Lock-It-Up” Video Game Business Model

September 8, 2011 Posted by zachary

This post was originally published on Techdirt.

It should come as no surprise to Techdirt readers that many people within the games industry hate used game sales. One of the methods these companies are implementing to fight these sales is to force buyers of used games to pay extra to gain access to the multiplayer portion. This works by inserting a one time use code in the new copies of games. Once the multiplayer code has been used, only the owner of the console used to activate it can access the multiplayer parts of the game. If that player decides to later sell or give away the game, the new owner would have to buy a new multiplayer code from the publisher, generally $10. So far EA, THQ, Ubisoft and Activision have dabbled in this system for various games.

It should also come as no surprise that such a system has a major weakness, the printing error.

Edge Magazine is reporting Ubisoft’s first foray into this new system has hit a road block. XBox 360 versions of Driver: San Fransisco were shipped to North America with a misprinted multiplayer code. Reports indicate the 360 is expecting a 25-character code, but the insert only contains a 19-character code. This results in an invalid code error when trying to redeem it. In response to this unforeseen (at least to Ubisoft) incident, Ubisoft is making the multiplayer portions of Driver free for all players worldwide, at least for 360 owners. There is no word on if this free multiplayer will be available for PS3 or PC owners.

In the end, it makes you wonder how, after 30+ years of printing registration codes inside PC games, such a system could fail so badly when translated to console games.

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